Washington (CNN)Sen. Angus King said Wednesday there is "no question" that Russian President Vladimir Putin is getting what he wants as US President Donald Trump railed against US allies before and during this week's NATO summit.
Angus King says Trump is giving Putin what he wants
On CNN's "New Day," host John Berman asked if King, an independent senator from Maine, believes Trump is playing into Putin's hands by distancing the US from its allies.
"There's no question," King said. "You can go back and read Putin's speeches. He views the western alliance as a threat and he wants to see it undermined. That's their strategy."
Trump began his six-day European trip Wednesday, kicking off the NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium by accusing Germany of being "a captive of Russia" because it buys energy from Russia. Before leaving Washington, Trump bemoaned NATO spending, threatening to pull US military protection for allies if they don't hit their defense funding target of 2% of gross domestic product by 2024. Tensions were high as Trump is set to meet Wednesday with both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Putin has publicly cited NATO as a "threat" to Russia's national security and experts have long believed Putin's long-term goal is weakening the alliance.
"Putin's dream has been a weakening and undermining European unity and the western alliance," King said.
"He can smell weakness. And if he sees the weakness, the disunity, between the US and Europe, who knows what will happen in the Balkans for example? Are we inviting aggression? That's the danger here."